Saturday, September 30, 2006

I've Failed to Indoctrinate my Daughter

I wear a lot of hats, but the hat that I have loved the most and put the most effort into for the last fourteen plus years has been my "mother" hat. I've always loved books, and I wanted to share that love with my children, so I READ to them constantly practically from the moment they came home from the hospital. Even when they were old enough to read on their own, we would still have a book that we were reading together at night or on long trips. I never considered it a chore, and they seemed to love everything I read to them. I initially had the goal of reading all of the Newberry Award winners with them until I discovered that a significant number of the more recent ones were crap. Of course, we covered all of my childhood favorites: The Little House of the Prairie Series, The Betsy-Tacy Series, Eleanor's Estes's books, and Elizabeth Enright's books, just to name a few. I remember driving to Yosemite one year and reading Rascal during the entire four-hour trip up there and finishing on the way home. When we drove to Yosemite last spring, my kids were reminiscing about how they had loved that book and that WE should read it again. Reading has been a huge part of our family, and my kids love a good story; however until recently my daughter didn't read on her own much. (Recently, she says that she and her friends are becoming "book nerds" and she doesn't go anywhere without a book.) My son is equally capable, but he still doesn't read as much as I would like. I could never understand how two kids with parents who love reading and who had such fun listening to stories all of their lives wouldn't want to read for themselves more. I mean these kids would complain when we'd make a quick stop at Barnes and Noble! I always laugh when I read the experts' lists on how to raise a reader; guess what, experts, you don't know as much as you think you do. I'm kind of kidding because my kids have always loved learning and have done well in school: I just thought that they would be...well, bookworms.
ANYWAY, this intro brings me to to my real subject of the day: knitting. My daughter learned to knit when she was five, and she has knit ONE hat since then. She's never been interested in it. Maybe I should have said, "No, no, you cannot learn to knit. Mommy doesn't want you to knit." With her personality, that might have gotten her interested then. She's just not interested in sitting still much. BUT today, we went shopping, and I wanted to stop at my LYS. Since we were also planning to do a little clothes shopping, Paige was in a compliant mood. We passed by a maroon and gold scarf in one of the aisles, and Paige exclaimed, "That's a Harry Potter scarf!" Paige loves the Harry Potter series, so incredibly she said that she thought that she'd like to knit it, then we saw that the pattern included the other "schools." She chose the Ravenclaw pattern because they're "honest and smart." I'm very excited about the prospect of having a knitting daughter. I don't think that I will share with Russ that I bought 5 skeins of Karabella Aurora 8 for $8.95 a skein to make the I, in essence, just bought a fourteen year old a $50.00 scarf. Ugh, when I say it that way...maybe I'm placing a bit too much importance on the whole knitting thing. Nah!! I really do think that it was worth it....but maybe next time we'll look at a little cheaper yarn.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I've Been Scholarly!

I've been a good girl and have nearly finished my proposal. I had so much fun reading my comments about the Debbie Bliss dress from my blogging buddies that I didn't mind that I didn't get to knit much this weekend. I did start one of the little booties that go with the Debbie Bliss dress. The bottom part of the shoes have a lattice pattern like the top of the dress. I'm a little surprised that Debbie would have us use a cable needle to make the lattice pattern though. It's just a two-stitch cross, and somewhere I learned that it's easier to simply knit or purl the second stitch on the left needle first, and then knit or purl the first stitch. I don't know if that made any sense, but my point is that I'm not using a cable needle to make a cables.
I also increased my stash a little this week. A post on the Green Gables Knit-Along mentions that The Sheep Shed is having a sale, so I checked it out. I thought they had some great bargains, even though they have a limited selection. I love Brown Sheep wool for knitting "kitty beds" and for throws, and I think that it was half off, if I remember correctly. I made my order on Saturday or Sunday, and it arrived today, so they have great service too. I'm going to use the pink with some green that I already have to knit a kitty bed for our dog sitter's kitty, and I'm thinking that my son would like a throw knit from the red.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Sheep, sheep, sheep

I started buying Debbie Bliss books when my now fifteen-year-old daughter was a baby. I keep buying them because I love the textures she uses for her all of her knits, and because I like knitting baby items since they make up so quickly. I've been meaning for ages to start the little sheep dress in The Baby Knits Book, and I finally did this week. I don't really enjoy doing intarsia because I am lazy; and instead of carefully winding the yarn on bobbins, I just attach each strand of yarn and clean up the mess when I'm finished. Still, I had to knit this dress. I found some Debbie Bliss wool/cotton for half off on the Herrschners website last year. I have been a little snobby about Herrschners in the past, but they have some great yarn sales. Teal isn't a traditional baby color, but I think it will look good anyway. I think Debbie's little sheep are really cute. Even though I have a few mistakes and tension problems, I think that I'm going to be happy with the dress when I am finished. I'm learning to get over the imperfections. Factory-produced clothing is rarely perfect either, and not nearly so charming.

I must devote tomorrow to working on my master's proposal. I should have finished it back in June, but I really did need a break. Now my plate is pretty full again since I'm teaching a night class two night a week and spending the day teaching recalitrant high schoolers, so I've got to budget the time. I read on my university's website that only half of the students who finished the course work for their Master's in Humanities program actually finished the degree. That's a bit scary! I can't imagine devoting all of this time to the classes and not finishing when I am so close to the end. I've got to start using knitting as a reward instead of a diversion. I think I've been knitting more lately than I did all summer when I had time to knit AND work on my proposal. Pleeeeease someone chastise me if you find me writing a long blog tomorrow. I MUST be academic tomorrow, none of this comforting domestic stuff for me until I've shown some discipline.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Getting Inspired

I received my new Patternworks catalog last week, which is always full of fun stuff. I love kits, and they have lots of kits this season. Now, I say that I love kits, but I don't actually have a history of success with kits, like the tulip sock kit that I bought from Knit Picks last spring. I started the tulip socks right away, but I quit after completeing half of a sock. The yarn seemed kind of scratchy and the socks seemed as if they were going to be too big. I might try tackling them again, but it's seems unlikely. At least the yarn looks pretty sitting in my yarn basket.

I've never even tried to start the flowers kits. I just like looking at the cute little box they came in; besides, I think that I'm a bit intimidated by them. Anyway, back to Patternworks. I've been planning to knit some pumpkins using Jordana Paige's pattern from Knitty , but Patternworks has an intriguing felted pumpkin kit also. I don't quite understand the concept. I don't think that they are even knit. They are just felted. Maybe I''ll try both patterns. Kai always feels that we are failures around Halloween because we don't go all out on the decorating thing. This year, I thought it would be fun to have the felted pumpkins on display. Plus, Sunset magazine has a really cute idea where you make "black cat o'lanterns" out of pumpkins. Of course, Kai would like to have lots of ghouls and severed hands scattered about the front lawn, but I think he'll be somwhat satisfied with the pumpkins and cats. So, I guess it's time to get started.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Booking Through Thursday

  • Do you tend to read more books written by one gender over the other? I definitely lean toward reading books by women, not because I chooe women writers intentionally. It's because women are more likely to have women as narrators or as main characters and I am more likely to identify with female characters. One of my favorite books is Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver. The main character isn't much like me but I feel connected with her. She's more messed up and tougher than I am and also more independent in some ways, but she's also fairly successful academically but feels like a loser sometimes, which I can totally identify with.

  • If so, which one? Men? Or women? Is this a deliberate choice? Or just something that kind of happened? It's just something that usually happens. I started out reading books like Little Houe on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables when I was young, and I still like books about girls or women on "journeys." The types of journeys have just changed some as I've gotten older.

  • And (without wanting to get too personal), is this your gender? Yep.

  • I love Thursdays! I usually have the entire afternoon and evening to do what I want after I've done a little clean up around the house. I got sidetracked today, but I still almost finished my Fetching fingerless gloves. It was such an easy pattern. I think they'll be cute when I've blocked them. Mmmm. I also think that it's about time for a manicure.

    Saturday, September 09, 2006

    Cheerful Socks

    It's funny how many knitting blogs have entries that say, "I've been a bad blogger lately." That's just what people need; to feel guilty about not doing something that they're only doing for fun anyway. So, I refuse to lament missing Booking Through Thursday or Eye Candy Friday this week again. I have this credo about work: it's that I'd rather be a pretty good teacher and a really good mom than the other way around. I guess I feel that way about a lot of things. If you're really good at something it stands to reason that something else is probably being overlooked regularly. Blogging seems like one of those things that should get overlooked pretty quickly when life gets too busy. Now, knitting itself, that's another story. It's so relaxing to knit that I need to do it. My favorite time to knit is when I get back from running at 6:00 A.M. and I have almost an hour before I have to start getting ready for work. I also love knitting when everyone else has gone to bed although I should be in bed too considering how early I have to get up. During those little snippets of knitting time this week, I finished knitting my fixation socks. It's still so hot that even cotton socks are too warm to consider wearing, but I do like them and think they are very cheerful just to have lying around.

    Monday, September 04, 2006

    Happy Labor Day

    When I was a kid, I always loved long car trips because I got to read the entire time. Later, I also enjoyed, you guessed it, knitting for hours on end. I had one of those great days today. We decided to spend Labor Day at the beach so that meant almost two hours of uninterupted knitting. Living in the Joaquin Valley during August is hardly ever pleasant, but it does help you to appreciate places with nice weather all the more. After a little visit to the Starbucks in Paso Robles, we headed towards Cambria on Highway 46. We stopped at Sycamore Farms one of my favorite places to wander around, even when I don't buy anything. I like looking at all of their herbs usually, but today everything looked pretty tired. There was also a minor technicality that prevented us from buying anything. We were there at 10:00, and the shop itself didn't open until 11:00. We thought it was awfully quiet around there. We hadn't noticed the sign when we drove in. We spent a little time at the beach at Cambria and then we went out to eat at Robin's. It always smells so good walking by there, and today we discovered that the food tastes as good as the restaurant smells. Russ says that Robins is her new favorite restaurant. And what do you know, The Ball and Skein Knit Shop is right across the street. I went in on the pretext of buying some stitch markers, but then I saw some beautiful Nashua yarn, which I fell in love earlier this summer when I bought the yarn for the bunny slippers. I plan to knit Paige and me some of fingerless gloves. Paige, uncharacteristically chose red, but I stayed true to form and chose pink and green. We ended the day with a final trip of the season to the Los Osos Farmer's Market and then on to Avila Beach. Avila has changed so much in the last five years. It used to be such a sleepy place. Now it''s full of hotels. I still like it though. We noticed the shark sign as we were drivingin. I hadn't noticed it before. It was over three years ago that a woman was killed by a shark while swimming near the pier. We had been there the week before with Ann and Sam, kind of freeky. Paige says that she would still boogy board there.

    Sunday, September 03, 2006

    Lazy Sunday

    I'm almost finished with my current sock project. I had planned to spend yesterday knitting at my daughter's volleyball tournament, but the accommodations were less than perfect, as in squeeze into a spot on the gym floor right next to the court and hope that the ball doesn't hit you not perfect. I still got some good knitting time in after we got home and I took a power nap.

    I made our kitty the felted kitty bed from Wendy Knits last spring, and she loved it after initially ignoring it for several days, of course. I decided to wash it one day, and then she decided once again that she wanted nothing to do with it. I got it out again yesterday and put it on the table in an attempt to dissuade her from sleeping on the tablecloth. She loves it again although it is now a might small. I think that I either shrunk it or Josephine is getting even fatter.

    Saturday, September 02, 2006

    Between Projects

    I don't like being between projects. I should always start planning what I'm going to work on next before I finish with my current project. It's funny, I just realized that I no longer have two or three projects going at once as I used to when I was younger. I think that it may be an inadvertent part of my "procrastinating recovery program." I've gotten to be so good about paying bills BEFORE the due date, grading and returning papers BEFORE the kids forget that they ever did the assignment in the first place, and cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms BEFORE the health department should be notified that my knitting behavior has been altered as well. I think I've been more successful with actually finishing things now. BUT, back to my original premise. Now when I finish a project I am sometimes stuck in the knitting doldrums. I knew that I wanted to knit some socks, but I couldn't decide on a pattern. I made my usual mess in the living room, browsing my mags. (No, my magazines were not so neatly displayed most of the week!) You would think that someone who has every Knitters and Knits back to the 1980s would have no trouble finding the right pattern to use. Part of my problem was that I wanted to use Cascade Fixation yarn. It's thicker than a lot of sock yarn, I think, so the patterns that had me casting on 60 or 70 stitches just weren't going to cut it. I finally found a nice, simple pattern at Socks 101. So, I spend the week looking at beautiful sock patterns, which I do have the skills to complete, and I choose a pattern that is "a good beginning project." It figures!